Light Years is, quite simply, the story of a slightly dysfunctional and very unfortunate family. It’s a slow burn. Oh boy, is it a slow burn. But I’ll get to that.
The film is one of those very naturalistic stories which shows a snapshot of a life. In this case, it shows a single day of this one family. We get to know all about them. There are a couple of other characters who crop up, but they’re not the focus.
Our focus is on three siblings for the most part, and their parents. The mother has a serious illness, one that is genetic, and so there’s a fair chance that any or all of the three siblings could have it. Rose doesn’t really know her mother as she has lived in a local care home for a few years when the story begins. Rose, the youngest sibling, goes out to see her mum by her self.
That’s really the entire film. The other two siblings panic and go in search of her. Rose finds her mum, they have a nice day together, the other two siblings catch up, they have a nice time at the beach. There are some other small details, but that’s basically it.
It’s very much an arthouse film. But it’s a lovely one.
The actors, mostly the younger cast, are all brilliant. They’re all lovable for their own reasons, though they’re all obviously slightly troubled. My favourite character, though his screentime is really quite short, is this young boy who thinks that he is in love with Rose, the youngest sibling. It’s all very sweet, though things seem just a little grim at times.
The cinematography is a highpoint of this film too, as there are many utterly beautiful shots in here. One that stands out is when the mother is explaining what a ‘light year’ is to Rose. The shot pans around as the two characters walk through a forest and the shot focuses on a close up of a tree as it slowly moves by. Due to the placement of the camera, it looks as though we’re looking at stars zipping by. It’s all incredibly well timed.
The screenplay is wonderful, as I say, it’s all very sweet and feels very real, as if we’re taking a peek into the life of this family. Unfortunately, as I said, the film is a slow burn. And I’m all for that up to a point. This film takes the mick a bit. Just a tad. This film is really a forty-five minute film (maybe an hour, tops). It’s just been stretched to within an inch of its life. It’s tediously slow. And that’s a shame. If the film had been filled with just a bit more going on, it would have saved the film from feeling so damned slow.
Heck, I’d have loved a couple of extra scenes with the kid that thinks he’s in love with Rose. Or even this guy who Rose’s older sister thinks she is in love with. They’re both interesting and cool characters and I’d have liked to have seen more of them instead of just staring at some pretty pictures.
Couple more scenes thrown in to replace sequences where nothing happened would have gone a long way here.
As it is, it’s a beautiful, if somewhat boring and tedious, film about a somewhat lovely but troubled family. It’s well directed, acted and written.
If you’re looking for something more ‘arty’ to watch in the coming months, I’d certainly recommend this. Though, you may want to fast forward over some of the more boring points in the film.
Dir: Esther May Campbell
Scr: Esther May Campbell
Cast: Sophie Burton, Zamira Fuller, James Stuckey, Beth Orton, Muhammet Uzuner
Prd: Samm Haillay, Wendy Bevan-Mogg, Duanne Hopkins, Andrew McVicar
DOP: Zac Nicholson, Will Pugh
Music: Eric Chenaux
Runtime: 90 min
Light Years is out in select UK cinemas on 24th September and will be released on DVD from 28th November.